Dec. 13, 2000 -- The following is the text of Vice President Al Gore’s address to the nation, in which he withdrew his claim to the hotly contested 2000 presidential race.
GORE: Good evening.
Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulatedhim on becoming the 43rd president of the United States — and Ipromised him that I wouldn’t call him back this time.
I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we canstart to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest throughwhich we just passed.
Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas (ph)told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency,“Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr.President, and God bless you.”
Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush thatwhat remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may Godbless his stewardship of this country.
Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road.Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now ithas ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honoredinstitutions of our democracy.
Over the library of one of our great law schools isinscribed the motto, “Not under man but under God and law.” That’s theruling principle of American freedom, the source of our democraticliberties. I’ve tried to make it my guide throughout this contest asit has guided America’s deliberations of all the complex issues of thepast five weeks.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt,while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. Iaccept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Mondayin the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity ofthe people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.
I also accept my responsibility, which I will dischargeunconditionally, to honor the new president elect and do everythingpossible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of thegreat vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that ourConstitution affirms and defends. Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported meand supported the cause for which we have fought. Tipper and I feel adeep gratitude to Joe and Hadassah Lieberman who brought passion andhigh purpose to our partnership and opened new doors, not just for ourcampaign but for our country.
This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God’sunforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to anew common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us thatwe are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny.
Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotlydebated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popularwill. Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reachingresolution. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished haveaccepted the result peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation.
So let it be with us.
I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too.But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.
And I say to our fellow members of the world community, let noone see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength ofAmerican democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties itcan overcome.
Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of thiselection might hamper the next president in the conduct of his office.I do not believe it need be so.
President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will beready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities.
I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on allAmericans — I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behindour next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when thestakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest isdone.
And while there will be time enough to debate our continuingdifferences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us isgreater than that which divides us.
While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there isa higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is Americaand we put country before party. We will stand together behind ournew president.
As for what I’ll do next, I don’t know the answer to thatone yet. Like many of you, I’m looking forward to spending theholidays with family and old friends. I know I’ll spend time inTennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively.
Some have asked whether I have any regrets and I do have oneregret: that I didn’t get the chance to stay and fight for theAmerican people over the next four years, especially for those whoneed burdens lifted and barriers removed, especially for those whofeel their voices have not been heard. I heard you and I will notforget.
I’ve seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It’sworth fighting for and that’s a fight I’ll never stop.
As for the battle that ends tonight, I do believe as my fatheronce said, that no matter how hard the loss, defeat might serve aswell as victory to shape the soul and let the glory out. So for me this campaign ends as it began: with the loveof Tipper and our family; with faith in God and in the country I havebeen so proud to serve, from Vietnam to the vice presidency; and withgratitude to our truly tireless campaign staff and volunteers,including all those who worked so hard in Florida for the last 36days.
Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to theunending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for thosemultitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the causeof freedom.
In the words of our great hymn, “America, America” “Let uscrown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”
And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it’stime for me to go.
Thank you and good night, and God bless America.